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Russia 'protected Hizballah' at Security Council over UNIFIL mandate

The UN Security Council has extended the peacekeeping mission in Lebanon for another year. [Getty]

Date of publication: 6 September, 2017

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Russia reportedly worked behind the scenes during recent discussions on renewing UNIFIL's mandate in southern Lebanon to protect ally Hizballah from being included in the resolution.

Russia reportedly worked behind the scenes during recent discussions on renewing UNFIL's mandate in southern Lebanon to protect ally Hizballah from being included in the resolution.

The UN Security Council unanimously backed a French-drafted resolution last week after much wrangling with the United States over the mandate of UNIFIL, tasked with monitoring a ceasefire between Hizballah and Israel.

Several paragraphs were added to the draft text after Israeli and US pressure urging the UN to increase their presence south of the Litani River in southern Lebanon, Haaretz reported.

The amendments also stated that UNIFIL forces must have full authority to prevent violations of Resolution 1701, which ended the 2006 war between Hizballah and Israel.

Israeli officials said that Russian diplomats who took part in the discussions opposed the wording of the American version and threatened that it would use its veto if the final resolution included any mention of Hizballah or the group's military activity in the south, Haaretz reported.

"The Russians watched from the side and their red line was that they would not consent to Hizballah being named in the resolution," a classified cable sent by the Israeli delegation to the Foreign Ministry said.

One of the deleted paragraphs had referred to a Hizballah media tour conducted along the Israeli border in April, which Israel claimed violated Resolution 1701.

The Russian demand to omit any mention of Hizballah came days after Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met Russian President Vladmir Putin in Sochi.

Top of the Israeli agenda in the meeting was Iran and Hizballah's influence in the Syrian war and the future of the country.

Israel has long complained of Iran's increasing influence in Syria and what it says are Tehran's attempts to create a land corridor from Iran through Iraq and Syria to Lebanon.

Russia, Iran and Hizballah have been backing Syrian regime president Bashar al-Assad in the country's brutal war.

Israeli military forces have repeatedly bombed arms convoys in Syria which were allegedly headed for Hizballah.

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